U.S. service member killed in Somalia during an operation against al-Shabab

A Somali soldier patrols next to the burnt-out wreckage of a car that was used by suspected al-Shabab fighters on April 16, 2017. (Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty)

An American service member was killed during an operation against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, the U.S. military said Friday.

The incident, which took place Thursday 40 miles west of the capital Mogadishu in an area called Barii, was a part of an intensified American effort to help Somali forces beat back the extremist group al-Shabab.

“U.S. forces are assisting partner forces to counter al-Shabab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America,” the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement.

The command provided no additional details about the encounter that killed the American service member.

It comes several weeks after the Pentagon announced that President Trump had approved expanded military operations in the African country, allowing U.S. troops to regularly accompany local forces and African Union forces on offensive operations against al-Shabab.

The decision to allow more expansive operations in Somalia is a signal of the Trump administration’s willingness to delegate decision-making power to military commanders and authorize a greater use of force against militant groups.

After decades of conflict, Somalia’s weak government faces a challenge not just from al-Shabab, which has staged attacks within and beyond the country’s borders, but from a newer Islamic State presence. The country is also grappling with a severe drought and potential food crisis.


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